For some reason, the “Insidious” franchise was extended to a third chapter with the aptly titled “Insidious: Chapter 3” – a prequel to the first two mildly successful (at least financially) films.
This installment may be the best of the bunch, but like the previous two it doesn’t sustain an intriguing set-up.
In “Chapter 3,” Quinn Brenner (Stefanie Scott) is a teenage girl who seeks help from psychic Elise Rainer (Lin Shaye in a much more expanded role than the first two films) because she believes her recently deceased mother is trying to contact her from the grave.
Elise reluctantly agrees to help, despite fighting her own demons from the other world, and discovers that an entity has attached itself to Quinn looking to take her soul.
As the entity gets closer to its goal, Quinn and her entire family, including father Sean (Dermot Mulroney), are put in danger.
Leigh Whannell, who penned the original and has a small role, directs for the first time with middle-of-the-road results. There are some really nice jump scares, but the pacing isn’t always there, and Whannell struggles at times to juggle the parallel stories.
Shaye takes advantage of her extended screen time, while Scott is totally engaging – it’s easy to get the audience to invest in her fate.
Unfortunately, Scott’s character takes a backseat somewhat in the final act, and “Chapter 3” quickly runs out of steam in her absence.
The result is a film that is promising for a while but is ultimately nothing more than a trip through a disappointing haunted house at a local carnival.
Also in theaters
The other new release this week is “Spy” (B+), which features a cornucopia of laughs and a plethora of talent, with Melissa McCarthy at the center for writer/director Paul Feig.
Fieg and McCarthy have already had success with “Bridesmaids” and “The Heat,” but this may be the best of the bunch – a whip-smart send-up of the James Bond genre that is also very funny.
McCarthy plays Susan Cooper, a CIA analyst stuck in a desk job serving as the eyes and ears for super spy Bradley Fine (Jude Law).
When Fine is murdered by a potential arms dealer named Rayna Boyanov (Rose Byrnes) and the rest of the agents in the field are compromised, Cooper convinces her bosses to let her go out in the field and stop Boyanov’s plan.
I’ve never been much of a fan of McCarthy, who has gotten into a rut of playing the same over-the-top manic character. She is toned down considerably here, and the results are much better.
This is a film where McCarthy is asked to play off everyone else, instead of everyone else playing off McCarthy, and there are plenty of characters to bounce off McCarthy’s Cooper.
You get Byrnes as this highly insecure villain and Law channeling his inner James Bond. There are a couple of nice unknown standouts, with Miranda Hart playing Cooper’s best friend, a bumbling Brit who is also stuck in a CIA desk job, and Peter Serafinowicz as a highly-hands on (in an inappropriate way) European agent named Aldo.
But the biggest surprise is Jason Statham, who plays a CIA agent who goes rogue and is always getting in Cooper’s way. It’s a performance that shows Statham has a comic side, a brilliant parody of all the tough guys characters that he is known for.
It’s smart touches like those that makes “Spy” full of laughs – and full of surprises.
“Spy” is rated R for language throughout, violence, and some sexual content including brief graphic nudity and is now playing at the Regal Greenwood Mall Stadium 10 and Highland Cinemas in Glasgow.